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Baked Macaroni and Cheese - Not Just For Kids

Few foods are as versatile and well-loved as baked macaroni and cheese. This dish is commonly referred to as “Mac n Cheese” among exclusive circles (2-10 year olds); this gooey cheese and noodle concoction is vastly underestimated by adults. Mostly, it is found at children’s birthday parties or as a side dish served along-side the food parents really want their children to eat. With the right selection of cheeses and the perfect choice of pasta, this American favorite can ascend to a place of honor at meal-time.
Think elegant. Replace the standard cheddar cheese with a more up-scale option such as fresh parmesan, and turn this childish dish into a chic, contemporary baked Alfredo macaroni and cheese. Add in a whole grain pasta option instead of the standard enriched elbow macaroni, and even a veggie or two (I like broccoli in mine) and you have a wonderful complement to any occasion.
Ingredients:
16oz choice of whole grain pasta
1 pint heavy cream (you can use whole milk for a lighter option, however, sauce will be thinner – to thicken, add flour to warmed milk and whisk to prevent clumping)
½ cup butter softened (1 stick)
1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + enough to grate over prepared dish
Freshly cracked black pepper
Try this:
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
Coat a 10 x 13 baking dish with butter or cooking spray.
Boil the macaroni stove-top until al dente (slightly firm, but cooked through). In a medium sauce pan, slowly bring heavy cream and butter to a rolling boil. Lower heat, add cheese, and whisk constantly to prevent burning. When cheese has fully melted, add cracked pepper to taste, and pour over pasta in baking dish. Grate extra parmesan down over the top, cover with aluminum foil, and bake 25 minutes at 350 degrees F. Remove foil, and continue baking for an additional 5-10 minutes until the top is a light golden brown in color. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

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